Croda says its Incromega TG triglyceride range includes high potency EPA and DHA concentrates with dioxin and furan levels of below 1pg WHO-TEQ/g. These compare with existing purity standards of 2pg WHO-TEQ/g as set out in the EC directive setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in food stuffs and the US Council for Responsible Nutrition's (CRN) omega-3 monograph.
Consumption of fish oil supplements has grown rapidly in recent years on the back of research that associates the omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish with reduced risk of heart disease and, increasingly, protection against certain mental disorders such as Alzheimer's.
However a study published in the journal Science last year found that farm-raised salmon contained high levels of pollutants like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Dioxins and PCBs are implicated in causing cancers, hormone disruption, developmental and neurological problems.
There have also been concerns about increasing levels of mercury found in fish.
Although reputable fish oil suppliers use advanced processing to remove such toxins from their products, Croda says customer demand for high levels of confidence from suppliers urged it go further than industry purity standards.
"We see a market requirement there," Dr Claire Packer, marketing manager at Croda, told NutraIngredients.com.
"PCBs levels in the company's Incromega TG brand are less than 0.009ppm, 90 per cent below the industry-wide CRN purity standard of 0.09ppm and significantly below existing country-specific legislative requirements," said the firm in a statement.
"Government bodies such as the UK's Food Standards Agency and the FDA have highlighted the potential for environmental contaminants such as PCBs and dioxins in fish products. By raising the industry purity standards for fish oil concentrates, we are giving our customers - and consumers - the reassurance of ultra high purity omega-3 supplements," added Dr Packer.
Croda sources sardines and anchovies from unpolluted waters. These smaller fish naturally contain lower levels of environmental contaminants, according to the firm.
It then uses state-of-the-art processing, including GMP molecular distillation and proprietary purification technology, to reduce the levels of trace impurities still further, to the limits of analytical detection.